Fourth of July DUI Checkpoints: Enjoy Your Drinks, Just Don’t Drive Afterward and more...



Fourth of July DUI Checkpoints: Enjoy Your Drinks, Just Don’t Drive Afterward

This weekend is a holiday, which means there’ll be barbeques, parties, fun, beer…and DUI checkpoints.

What Are DUI Checkpoints?

A DUI checkpoint is a station where law enforcement will pull over every vehicle on the road. The officers speak with each driver, and if the driver smells like drugs or alcohol, that individual is escorted from the vehicle and further tested via roadside or chemical field testing.

DUI checkpoints are always temporary, and they are set up at times and in places where police suspect that they will find drunk drivers. In the Denver, Colorado, area, DUI checkpoints were responsible for over 70 arrests during a recent July 4th holiday.

Are DUI Checkpoints Constitutional?

The U.S. Supreme Court says that checkpoints are legal because each driver is brought in and checked quickly for signs of drinking/drugging and driving. Sober drivers are released quickly.

There is no Fourth Amendment violation, because the process is not random. This, by the way, has been the law for 23 years. The court held that the need to find drunk drivers outweighs the minimal burden placed on legal, sober drivers by being stopped.

Tips for Stopping a Drunk Friend from Driving

If you are with a friend who’s been drinking too much, and wants to drive, here are a few tips for preventing him/her from driving:

Tip #1: Approach the conversation in a non-confrontational way.  Remember that the person’s listening is impaired from drinking alcohol, so talk more slowly and explain the situation more fully.

Tip #2: Ask a friend or two for their support. It’s harder for someone who’s been drinking to say no to several people. Let your friends know the goal is to keep the interaction non-confrontational, light and supportive

Tip #3: Tell your friend that you care about his/her safety. If you are at your house, invite them to sleep over, offer to drive the person home, or call a taxi (and pay the fair in advance, another way to show your friendship and support).

Tip #4: Take away their car keys, but don’t make it a tug-of-war.  Just as you approached the conversation in a light, non-confrontational manner, do the same here. By the way, helps if you take the keys while the person is distracted.

Have a safe, fun holiday!

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Shaun Kaufman has 30 years of in-court experience, with hundreds of hours spent defending numerous high-profile cases including homicide, white-collar theft and RICO offenses. Specialties: Criminal defense, personal injury, business litigation, DUI.

Shaun Kaufman Law: 303-309-0430
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Cyberstalkers: You Can Type, But You Can’t Always Hide

What Is Cyberstalking?computer user silhouette pub domain

Cyberstalking is an online, or electronic, attack on another person that is intended to exact control or revenge, harass, humiliate, and/or frighten that person, and sometimes his/her loved ones as well.

Often cyberstalking is repetitive, such as when the cyberstalker anonymously posts multiple harassing messages. It can also be a single incident, such as a harassing comment posted under the guise of a book review on Amazon. My wife recently wrote about Amazon taking down a cyberstalker’s personal attack, posed as a book review. You can read that article here: Dealing with Cyberstalkers

Cyberstalking is a Crime

Cyberstalkers love the anonymity of the Internet because they think they can hide behind their bogus IDs, anonymous logins or fictional identities. Believing they are invisible behind their electronic shields, they lob lies, threats, and other harassments at their victims. They don’t realize their phony IDs are sometimes uncovered and their real identities traced. They then learn just how seriously the legal system views their cyberstalking crimes.

Florida Cyberstalking Case: Possible Life in Prison Sentences

In this trial, former optometrist David Matusiewicz; his mother, Lenore Matusiewicz; and his sister, Amy Gonzalez are accused of conspiracy and cyberstalking of David’s ex-wife, Christine Belford. Because their cyberstalking resulted in the victim, Christine’s, death, the defendants could each face life in prison if convicted.

Colorado Harassment Law: Class 3 Misdemeanor

In my state of Colorado, the below actions are considered harassment under Colorado law. If an individual is accused of any of these actions — with the intent to harass, annoy, or alarm another person — he/she can be charged with harassment:

  1. Striking, shoving, kicking or touching another person,
  2. Directing obscene language or gestures to another person in a public place,
  3. Following a person in a public place,
  4. Calling someone or contacting them by phone, computer, or other system with intent to harass, or threaten, or makes obscene calls,
  5. Calling another person repeatedly whether or not a conversation happens,
  6. Repeatedly communicating at inconvenient hours, or
  7. Repeatedly insulting, taunting, or challenging someone in a manner likely to provoke a fight.

In most circumstances, harassment is a Class 3 misdemeanor, with the potential penalty of up to 6 months in jail and a $50 fine (Ref: CRS 18-9-111).

Articles on Cyberstalking

Facebook Harassment: Should You Call the Cops? (FindLaw)

How the Law Is Standing Up to Cyberstalking (Newsweek)

Are You Being Stalked? (Privacy Rights Clearinghouse)

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Shaun Kaufman has 30 years of in-court experience, with hundreds of hours spent defending numerous high-profile cases including homicide, white-collar theft and RICO offenses. Specialties: Criminal defense, personal injury, business litigation, DUI.

Shaun Kaufman Law: 303-309-0430
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Copyright Trolling: Don’t Be a Victim

Troll butting tree, illustration by John Bauer (image is in public domain in the U.S.)

What Is a “Copyright Troll”?

It’s a pejorative term for a party (for example, a company that buys or owns copyrights) who aggressively enforces its owned copyrights through threat of litigation. These companies use frivolous litigation (lawsuits brought to harass defendants) to make extraordinary profits.

Copyright Trolling Isn’t Accidental

When we talk about copyright trolling, we don’t mean a company or individual who happens to learn their intellectual property (such as a picture) is being illegally distributed or copied so they ask their lawyer to contact the copyright violator with a request to please stop the undesired activity. For example, my wife is a published author. Recently she learned one of her stories, which she sold to a publication years ago, was being illegally distributed through an online site. My wife owns the copyright to this story, so she wrote a request to the site owner to remove the story. The site removed it. She wasn’t interested in further action, such as initiating a lawsuit or requesting financial damages.

Trolls Always Seek Financial Damages

In fact, copyright trolls’ sole reason to exist is to initiate copyright violation lawsuits, which is how the trolls make money. For example, Righthaven, LLC, purchased copyrights for old news articles from the publisher of the Las Vegas Review Journal. Righthaven’s sole purpose and business was to then seek out anyone who copied, distributed, posted or otherwise used these articles without Righthaven’s permission. Upon finding these violators, Righthaven filed lawsuits demanding damages of $75,000 per instance from each copyright infringer. Obviously, not everyone, if anyone, can pay $75,000 for illegally using a copyrighted item. Righthaven knew this. They would then agree to settlements of several thousand dollars per defendant. According to an article on the site Righthaven Victims, Righthaven has bitten the dust.

How Can You Not Be a Victim?

Do not reproduce or redistribute such items as:

  • Music
  • Images
  • Blogs
  • Stories
  • News articles
  • Movies

Also ask anyone who might use, or have access to, your computer to not reproduce/redistribute items.

How to Identify a Copyright Troll

Simply put, you can identify a copyright troll because the entity requesting extraordinary financial damages for an innocent copyright infringement is not the holder of the original copyright.

Public Domain Images: Two Sources

There are numerous online sites and services that offer public domain images for no fee. Below are two:

The Getty Museum Open Content Program: Open content images can be used for any purpose without first seeking permission from the Getty. It requests the user acknowledge the digital image with the statement: Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

Below is an example of a copyright-free digital image via the Getty Museum Open Content Program:

Card Players 1949 LA by Max Yavno (Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program)

Card Players 1949 LA by Max Yavno (Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program)

Library of Congress, Carol Highsmith collection: The Library of Congress does not own the images, recordings, manuscripts, maps and so on in its collections, and advises users to verify rights and permissions before downloading any items. One collection whose content is within the public domain is photographer Carol Highsmith’s archive of her photographs that includes thousands of digital images. Highsmith offers all of her digital photographs copyright-free to the American public.

Below is an example of one of Highsmith’s photographs:

1933 Courtroom, James R. Browning US Court of Appeals Building, SF, CA by Carol Highsmith

Related Articles and Sites:

Fight Copyright Trolls

Electronic Frontier Foundation: Copyright Trolls

ars technica: “Furious judge decries ‘blizzard’ of copyright troll lawsuits

Wired: “Judge Orders Failed Copyright Troll to Forfeit ‘All’ Copyrights

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Shaun Kaufman has 30 years of in-court experience, with hundreds of hours spent defending numerous high-profile cases including homicide, white-collar theft and RICO offenses. Specialties: Criminal defense, personal injury, business litigation, DUI.

Shaun Kaufman Law: 303-309-0430
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Absinthe: What Is It and How Does It Work in Your Body?

Still Life with Absinthe by Van Gogh 1887

What Is Absinthe?

Van Gogh loved it and painted it. Hemingway and Poe wrote about it.

Absinthe is an emerald green beverage that contains alcohol and herbal extracts; hence its moniker “the green fairy.” Absinthe derives its name from Artemisia Absinthium, one of the herbs used in the drink. Absinthium, or wormwood, contains a substance known as thujone, which among other things has purported hallucinogenic properties. Absinthe has a high percentage of alcohol, and it has an anise, or licorice, taste. It was developed in Europe in the nineteenth century. During that time, Absinthe became so popular — with the popular assumption that is was also addictive, although there are no standards to prove this — that many countries, including the United States, banned it in the early twentieth century. This ban came about because it was speculated that absinthium caused seizures and hallucinations with resulting addiction and delirium.

What Is the Big Deal?

In the nineteenth century, absinthe was reputed to:

  • induce trances
  • act as an aphrodisiac
  • cause hallucinations
  • produce sensations of “other worldliness.”

Today, some eastern European absinthe marketeers still claim absinthe has similar properties. Is this true? No. What is true is that absinthe produced in eastern Europe has higher levels of thujone, which probably contributes to the marketeers making claims about it producing the effects as listed in the list above. Other brands of absinthe produced throughout the world contain varying amounts of absinthe.

Some drinkers of absinthe claim it produces a feeling of drunken clear-headedness. This clarity is probably due to the stimulant effects of some of the other herbal remedies placed into the cocktail, but not due to the thujone.

How Does Absinthe Work in the Body?

This is such a high percentage of alcohol (sometimes 70% pure alcohol) in absinthe  that it works like a really strong liquor; however there are two myths about absinthe:

Myth #1: Absinthe’s herbal infusion of absinthium (and other herbs) moderates the effect of high alcohol and imparts a clarity to the user.

Myth #2: Absinthium, containing the drug thujone, is psychoactive.

In actuality, recent studies have shown that thujone has absolutely no addictive or psychotropic properties (Lachenmeier, Fortschritte der Neurologie-Psychiatrie, 2007 May 75:5 306-08) www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17506021). However, many governmental agencies regulate what percentage of thujone is contained in absinthe. In spite of this, many governmental agencies (Unites States, Canada and Australia) regulate what percentage of thujone is permissible in legal absinthe sales.

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Shaun Kaufman has 30 years of in-court experience, with hundreds of hours spent defending numerous high-profile cases including homicide, white-collar theft and RICO offenses. Specialties: Criminal defense, personal injury, business litigation, DUI.

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Can You Be Convicted of DUI/Drugs While on a Prescribed Medicine?

It’s possible to be convicted of driving under the influence from over-the-counter drugs

The short, quick answer to this question is yes. You can be convicted of DUI/D (or DUI drugs) if your driving skills are affected by a drug.

The Law Defines Drugs Very Broadly

What kind of drugs can get you arrested, charged and convicted of DUI/drugs? In the law, we define drugs very broadly, and it typically includes any substance that can affect a person’s motor, mental, perceptual or physical capacities and impairs their driving. In fact, it is possible to be convicted of driving under the influence of drugs where the drug is an over-the-counter variety, such as cold medicine or even caffeine pills, if their consumption results in impairment.

A Medical Marijuana License Doesn’t Make It Okay to Drive While High

Just because you have a “medical license” does not mean that you can drive while high. For the record, medical marijuana is dispensed on a recommendation, not a prescription, so it has even less respectability than prescribed medicine with police and courts.

How Do You Know If You’re All Right to Drive?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • “Do I feel any differently after taking the drug?”
  • “Am I sleepy? Dizzy?”
  • “Is there a label on the bottle that says ‘Do not operate heavy machinery after taking this medicine?'”

If any of your answers questions are yes, then do not drive after taking your medicine. If you do drive, and you are pulled over, an officer can ask you for a chemical test. If you refuse that test, and the officer had a good reason to pull you over (actually, any reason to pull you over) then you could lose your license for up to a year.

There is no defense or excuse in Colorado law for taking prescribed medicine and driving. Don’t fall prey to your assumptions or expectations about these laws.

Shaun Kaufman Law

Shaun Kaufman Law: 303-309-0430

If you are in trouble for any DUI, including DUI/D, speak with Denver DUI defense lawyer Shaun Kaufman.

Shaun has studied human physiology and handled many cases involving drug toxicology, Colorado DUIs and DWAIs, and Colorado driver’s license reinstatements.

Call 24/7: 303-309-0430

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